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Professor Chat: Arno Kolz

This week’s Professor Chat is with Arno Kolz, associate professor of psychology. This semester he is teaching Roots: Psychology, Forensic Psychology, Organizational Psychology and Research in Psychology. Continue reading to find out a little more about your professor.

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Photo Courtesy of Arno Kolz

Q: Why are you a professor in the subject you are?

A: Well, I always knew I wanted to be a psychology major, even when I was back in high school I knew when I went to college, I’d want to major in psychology. I don’t know how I came to that conclusion, but I always knew it. However, while I was in college I was not sure whether I was going to go into psych or law school and it really wasn’t until it came time to apply for grad school or law school that I decided while law is interesting, I don’t think I’d want to be a lawyer. So I kind of went into psych and I went into industrial organizational psych.

Originally, I had no interest in teaching really and I was going to do business consulting like team building kind of stuff. Then my second year of grad school I got basically a full scholarship and they paid me $5,000 to go to grad school there, but the catch was I had to teach two sections of general psychology. I had never taught before, so I did it and even though I felt like I was a nervous wreck and I was doing lousy, I guess I didn’t and I guess I did real well. My teacher evaluations were really high and people who heard me teach praised me. Some of the students were older than me. So, I was 21 to 22 years old at the time maybe. I discovered that I liked it and that I was good at it. In fact, the person who was in charge of monitoring and supervising the student teachers pulled me into her office at the end of the semester and said, ‘Arno, your teacher evaluations are the third highest in the whole psych department.’ That really encouraged me and I started doing my own thing in classes and I thought I could see myself doing that.

Q: What is your favorite part about Manhattan College?

A: Getting to know the students real well and getting to have these kinds of talks and all that kind of stuff. I think I’m a decent classroom teacher, but I think I’m a better mentor. I think I’m better at this one-on-one stuff. If I can help a student do research or with life or jobs or whatever, you get to know people here. I’m not lecturing to 300 people in a room. And your colleagues too. It’s a small, friendly place.

Q: What is your biggest student pet peeve (if you have one)?

A: It’s not something that’s going to make me get angry, I very rarely get angry, but if something is clearly in the syllabus and we went over it and I said it three times and it’s still asked about, that can be a little bit like ‘c’mon,’ but it’s not a big deal.

Q: Where can you be found on the weekends?

A: Mostly at my house.

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Photo Courtesy of Arno Kolz

Q: What is your favorite thing to read (book, newspaper, magazine, etc.)?

A: In terms of books in general, I read two kinds of books. I read fantasy and sci-fi books to relax and chill and I read a lot of psych books like Steven Pinker stuff just because it’s relevant to what I do and I find it interesting. If I was to pick out one source that I really do enjoy reading, I’m a big fan of Nate Silver and his webpage FiveThirtyEight.com. He’s a statistician. His first claim to fame was that he was one of those guys who founded baseball perspectives. He used cutting edge statistical techniques to predict baseball player and team performance. Then after developing these really good models to predict how the baseball players were doing, he took the same kind of approach and applied it to politics. Starting, I believe in 2006, using these same statistical models he started nailing these elections perfectly. I think he got all 50 states right in both the last two presidential elections. His predictions blew away all the talking heads on TV and all the other pollsters. He’s really into using data statistics to predict things. Because of his success with the presidential elections, he got a big contract with ABC News and ESPN to develop this website where they do statistical analysis on everything from politics, to the Oscars to sports to just silly little life things. It is both serious and light and I love that whole approach. I’m very big into data driven rational decision making.

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